COMMENT

One of the great pleasures in life is to sit in front of my Bakelite value radio and listen to the news of the day. It's incredible to think of the eyes fixed on that speaker over many decades as major events have been broadcast through it over the years, including in my time the assassination of US President John F Kennedy.

The Bakelite was the successor of the old wooden valve radios, like the El Rays and the Golden Knights of which I also have a couple. Their speakers would have heralded the outbreak of the first and second world wars. The old wooden cases take a bit more upkeep than the Bakelite which looks as pristine as the day it was manufactured and that's because it's indestructible - it's made of plastic. In fact Bakelite was the first fully synthetic plastic in the world, invented by Leo Baekeland in New York in 1907.

Little was Baekeland to know what a Pandora's box he was unleashing on the world, if you listen to the environmentalists. Plastic's become the public enemy number one, well the plastic bags we get from the supermarket are. But in a year's time they'll be extinct, if the Government has its way.

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They call them single-use plastic bags, whereas in fact they're used many times over. Cleaning up the cat's litter tray, lining the rubbish bin, the emergency shower cap, in fact they've become our go-to in the home for many things.

But we're told if we don't stop using them then there'll be more plastic in the ocean than fish in 30 years' time, which is pure supposition. We're following on from other countries in banning them, the most recent Australia, where supermarket workers have been attacked by customers for trying to get them to pay for replacement bags and where plastic bag bandits have made off with piles of them as the ban drew closer.

Here they're going to give you a say over the next month on what bags should be included, which retailers should be exempted and how people can be helped to get over their plastic bag addiction.

Life moves on, even if it will be a little more inconvenient without the beloved plastic bag. It was a point being made by a colleague before he realised that he'd gone a step too far, remembering that milk used to be delivered in glass bottles. It's now on the supermarket shelves in, yes plastic containers.

To rid the world of plastic would be impossible, it's used in virtually everything from cars to carpets.

But there's nothing so useful as the common old plastic bag, which will soon be a distant memory. Several months ago I put one in a time capsule behind a wall lining - someone will no doubt discover it in 50 years' time during the next renovation and wonder what all the fuss was about.